Babies don’t come cheap. Between all of the pre-natal visits, delivery costs, diapers, formula, baby gear and teeny tiny clothes, the costs of spitting a baby out of your vag and keeping him or her alive can quickly add up.
But don’t freak, I’ve got you covered. Here are 7 ways you can cut baby-related expenses instead of adding to your ever-growing credit card balance.
1. Negotiate hospital bills
The cost of giving birth in a hospital can vary widely based on where you live, and if you qualify for Medi-Cal they might even cover the cost entirely. If not, ask if you qualify for any discounts, and at the very least arrange a payment plan and then stick with it!
You can also ask if certain tests and procedures are absolutely necessary, and deny them if not. For example, if they want to draw blood for the sole purpose of determining your blood type and you know that you are A positive, say so. Opting to forego the painkillers can also reduce your bill, but let’s be serious, you’re going to want an epidural and it’s worth every penny.
2. Breastfeed your baby
Sure, formula is free if you qualify for WIC, but breast milk is always free and at hand (or, er chest). You also won’t necessarily need to spend money on bottles, nipples, warmers, special drying racks and bottle brushes if you breastfeed. Studies show that children who are breastfed have better health not just in infancy but years down the road, so by breastfeeding now you just may be able to save on antibiotics and co-pays for would-be ear infections later.
Many insurance companies now cover the cost of double electric breast pumps in full, so be sure to call for your free pump (an average $300 value!). Even if you never end up using the pump, you can always turn around and sell that shit for diaper money!
While cloth diapering can save money in the long run, I don’t know anyone who is actually willing to deal with that shit (literally). The solution? Coupons! You can find coupons for diapers, wipes, baby food, accessories, clothes, etc. online as well as in your Sunday newspaper. Many companies will also mail you coupons if you sign up for their mailing list. By pairing your coupon with a sale, you will save the maximum amount. Basically you want to stock up whenever something you typically buy is on sale so that you always have it on hand and never have to pay retail. Not convinced? I wasn’t either until I watched an Extreme Couponing marathon. Now those people are my heroes. Fuck retail!
Don’t be ashamed to accept hand-me-downs or shop at the Goodwill for baby clothes. Fortunately, not even the latest designer baby jeans can replace the love and affection your baby needs from you, so don’t get caught up in trying to accessorize baby in order to impress others. (They’re usually only cooing over baby’s chubby grin and tiny toes anyway!)
Sure your little one deserves to look his or her best but the reality is that they will be spending a lot of time at home, pooping and puking more than a freshman at his first frat party. So consider spending as little as possible on the bulk of baby’s everyday wear and only splurge on a few items for special occasions where he or she will be in the spotlight.
5. Buy it used
When it comes to most baby gear items, your best bet is to buy secondhand whether it be on Craigslist, at a yard sale or a thrift shop. For instance I paid $35 for an Evenflo high chair that was almost $200 new, and $10 for a Bumbo seat valued at $45 just by doing a search on Craigslist and going to pick up the items from a residence instead of a store. Because these types of items are used for such a short time, you can often find them in great condition. (For safety reasons it is recommended that you always buy car seats new, unless you can be sure that the seat was never involved in a car accident or safety recall.)
6. Make your own baby food
I know it sounds retro but when it comes time to start solids, you can save money by making your own baby food. Even if you have to borrow mom’s food processor for a few months to play Suzy Homemaker, it’s much cheaper to take a 19 cent banana and turn it into three containers of baby food than it is to buy three jars of said food at the market. Some foods should always be bought organic in order to limit your baby’s exposure to pesticides, so be sure to check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.
7. Barter for child-care
Even if you’re not juggling school and/or a job, there will come a time when you will want to slip back into your favorite heels and head out for a night of debauchery. If you’re fortunate enough to have a mom or grandparent who can’t wait to have baby all to themselves then take advantage of it!
If not, instead of paying a babysitter, see if you can barter. Maybe you can dye your cousin’s hair, swap childcare with a fellow mom, or teach your neighbor how to use Photoshop. Think of things you’re good at and where your prospective babysitter may have a need and then make them an offer! It never hurts to ask.
So in short, having a baby doesn’t have to break your bank. Try using some of these tips to save some cash and get back to loving your priceless little mini-you.